Installing unfinished tongue-and-groove strip or plank hardwood flooring is relatively easy. Here's how to get it started:
Step 1: Select the starting wall, typically the longest wall, and measure to the opposite wall in two or three locations to make sure that the walls are parallel. If not, you may need to compensate for varying width at the starting or ending wall.
Step 2: Insert 1/2-inch spacers between the first row and the wall to allow for expansion of the floor with humidity.
Step 3: Face nail the first row of boards along the starting wall. To do so, mark the face for nail locations with a pencil, spaced 6 inches apart and at least 1/2-inch from edges.
Step 4: Drill pilot holes through the boards (to minimize splitting) and nail the boards to the subfloor with finish nails or a power nailer. Use a nail set to sink the nail heads below the board’s surface without damaging the board.
The first row(s) of boards are face-nailed because hardwood floor nailers are wider than the boards. You must build rows out from the wall to a point where the nailer can be used.
The most difficult part of installing unfinished hardwood flooring is the finish sanding, which is why pros are installing more prefinished hardwood floors.